Pamela Means is a Boston-based Out(spoken), biracial, independent artist whose “kamikaze guitar style” and punchy provocative songs have worn a hole in two of her acoustic guitars.
Means’ commitment to interrogating social ills was fostered by her unique childhood. “As the adopted daughter of a white mother and black father, I learned about dismantling systems of oppression from the inside out,” she explains. Means received her first guitar at the age of 14, just after her mother died of cancer, and it soon became her primary vehicle for expression. It would also serve as a passport out of a life that consisted of poverty, foster homes, and the inner city life of hyper-segregated Milwaukee, WI.
According to Vermont newspaper Seven Days, Means “exhibits a rare emotional fire in today’s folk world,” so much so that Ani DiFranco exclaimed, “you’ve got such a deep, deep groove, I can’t get out. And, I wouldn’t want to.”
How long have you been creating your art?
I was writing songs by age 14 and began performing on stage when I was 20.
Where are you from? How does that influence your art?
I grew up in and around Milwaukee, WI. Being a biracial queer person, I witnessed bigotry and racism up close and personal from childhood onward. Developing an awareness and an ability to articulate my experiences and the desire to rise up and fight against oppression in all forms continues to influence and inform my art.
What is your inspiration? And why?
I am proud to be a part of a legacy of outspoken artists who have used their platform not just to celebrate the beauty of life and love but to urgently call out cruelty and corruption, to speak out in demand of justice and human dignity.
Why is music important to the queer community?
Music, art itself, is vital for every community. It is crucial for one to see themselves reflected in positivity and held up in places of light and love. The queer community claims and reclaims for itself pride and joy long denied in negative representations perpetrated throughout history and the arts. We still fight for visibility and demand the end to all discrimination. Music is one such vehicle, and phenomenon, to process feelings and express all sentiments.
What do you hope to achieve as an artist?
To spread love, light, joy, righteous outrage, and motivation for each to do a part to create a just and beautiful world.
Who are your top three major influences?
Audre Lorde, bell hooks, and James Baldwin.
How can we all support your work and talent?